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LAS VEGAS (October 14, 2011) – Making your way through a 34-car field of screaming Indy cars on Sunday will require patience and handling, but having a drafting partner will pay big dividends over 200 nail-biting laps of the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval.
So while the Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Jay Howard (#15 Service Central Honda/Dallara/Firestone) and Pippa Mann (#30 RLL Honda/Dallara/Firestone) will start deep in the pack after Friday’s qualifying effort, they will line up nose-to-tail and will already be in place to help each other sluice through the field in the 2011 IZOD Indy Car season finale.
Howard qualified on the outside of Row 14 for Sunday’s race while Mann will grid directly behind him, claiming the spot on the outside of Row 15.
Howard logged a two-lap average speed of 218.577 mph on his qualifying run, with a best lap of 25.3961 seconds. His starting position in Vegas matches his grid position in the first of the two Texas races this year, in an event that saw the Englander pound through the field to gain 13 spots by the end of the race.
“There’s 34 drivers out here and we all want to be fast so it’s tough to get to the front,” Howard said. “The balance of the car is really good, I can put it any place I want it, we’re just trying to be faster. We struggled in qualifying at Texas but had a really good race car and hopefully we’ll be able to repeat that on Sunday for our partners at Service Central, R66T and Cyrca.”
Mann carded a two-lap average of 218.157 mph with a fastest lap of 25.4608 seconds. The British rookie spent a lot of time during the day’s practice session working on improving the car’s feel in traffic, which will pay off Sunday as 34 Honda-powered missiles will often find themselves fighting for the same piece of Las Vegas real estate.
“We’ve got a good handling car and I think it will be the same on Race Day, but we’re still looking for some speed,” Mann reported. “I got to run a good bit in traffic today during practice and the car feels good. Sunday is going to be a long, hot day but it could be good for us if we stay focused and work hard to make our way through the field.”
The qualifying run was the last bit of track time for the Indy Car drivers prior to the beginning of Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car World Championships. The 200-lap event can be seen live on ABC with coverage of the pre-race activities beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The race is slated to take the green flag at 3:45 p.m. Fans can follow all of the action in every session live via their computer by visiting www.indycar.com